By Elizabeth Prata
You know the story. Yahweh had delivered the Hebrews from slavery. He delivered them using 10 miracles (plagues). He delivered them via parting the Red Sea. He sustained them by giving them water. He sustained them by giving them food. Literally, bread from heaven. (Exodus 16:4, Nehemiah 9:15).
It tasted like “wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31) and “fresh oil.” (Numbers 11:8).
The manna (literal translation, “What is it?” Exodus 16:15) was nutritious, delicious, and since it was from heaven, didn’t have the curse of the ground upon it.
But they grumbled. They didn’t know what it was. They wanted meat.
You also know this story- we read about the Israelites and we think to ourselves, “I’d never complain about manna! How dare they? They were faithfully being sustained every day! And they wanted to go back to Egypt? Pish!”
Or maybe it’s just me who thinks that.
Anyway, I’ve got food issues. I have to go gluten-free, lactose-free, low FODMAP, and low carb. The list of foods I can eat without an IBS incident or resulting pain or discomfort is short. This means I eat repetitively, same foods, same dishes, almost every day.
As a matter of fact, breakfast is a particularly difficult meal. I had an issue the other day when I made almond flour pancakes with an egg on top. What was it?? The almond flour? Or the egg? Geesh, I eat those two items a lot. I’d topped the meal with strawberries, something I also eat every day. I don’t cook them with butter because I have a Calphalon griddle, and I only used a small amount of syrup, relying on the juices from the strawberry instead.
I was so aggravated. SO aggravated. And defeated. I’d resolved to eat oatmeal every morning (like I do when school is in session) to clear my system and then re-introduce whatever the potential offender was, slowly.
My mind began to churn. Being constricted in my choices at this point, I was resting in my warped mind solely on “oatmeal”. I say warped because I have other choices. Toast with peanut butter. Fruit salad with lactose free yogurt. Gluten free waffles. And more.
Oatmeal is good. I enjoy it. It’s filling and nutritious. It’s inexpensive. It is quick to make. All the boxes are ticked. But I still began to grumble in my mind.
Then it hit me. You got there way before I did, I’m sure. I’m just like the Israelites! Even worse, because I have choices. They didn’t. I don’t even HAVE TO eat oatmeal every day, but I was murmuring anyway.
Well that hit me like a ton of bricks. I repented of my grumbling. I chose to think instead about how the Lord provided me with many mercies and benefits. I have a job so I have money to buy oatmeal. I have a safe and comfortable and affordable apartment. Rentals in my county are non-existent and when they do rarely pop up, they’re expensive or forbid animals. (I have a cat). It was a mercy that I even like oatmeal as much as I do.
What is the matter with us? When we’re constricted in any way, we rebel. Just think of any toddler anywhere to whom you have said “No.” That is our sin-nature coming out. (Jeremiah 17:9, Genesis 6:5, Romans 7:18).
Here’s another mercy the Lord gives us: the Spirit makes known to us our sins and gives us opportunity to repent of them. The Lord gives us a conscience so that we’re pricked when we displease the Lord, and can repent of our sins.
One other thing. I knew of the Israelites’ grumbling because I read the Bible. It is the only way I can remove myself from myself in order to identify my sin nature. Sin lives in me, and since I live in me, I can’t recognize my own sin many times.
The word of the Lord is living and active, and the startling realization of my sin was due to His word coming alive in me, and graciously pointing me in the right direction. Without the word of God, we will go along happily thinking we never do anything wrong. That not only will displease the Lord most of all, but we would be in danger of drifting away from so great a salvation.
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. (Hebrews 2:1).